Member of the Month

Janine Jones-Clark

Head of Inclusion – Talent and Content for Global Talent Development & Inclusion, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group

Janine Jones-Clark serves as Head of Inclusion – Talent and Content for Global Talent Development & Inclusion at Universal Filmed Entertainment Group where she leads diversity and inclusion strategies for production and workforce for Universal Pictures, Focus Features, DreamWorks Animation, Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes.

Janine was interviewed by our Vice President of Development and Operations, Elizabeth Kilpatrick.

Elizabeth Kilpatrick: Tell us a little bit about your role at NBC Universal and your path to this position.

Janine Jones-Clark: Getting here was a bit of a circuitous path. I worked in television publicity for many years and then transitioned into more of a creative role. I started working in current programming and loved it. One thing that really stuck out to me though was how representation would pitch their female and diverse clients to me for staffing on series. It was really frustrating.

I learned about an opportunity at another studio where I could jump in and make a difference. I could break down barriers for females and people of color. I could help create opportunities for them. That just fueled my passion and I found my groove with it. I was able to pull in my PR experience of helping people market themselves along with my creative experience in storytelling. It was just a natural fit.

And three years ago, Donna Langley presented me with the opportunity of a lifetime – to join the Universal film group and build a brand new department. It fueled my passion. We are completely devoted to increasing representation in front of the camera, behind the camera, and within our workforce.

The commitment from our leadership is what really drives our success. We are committed to achieving measurable results that are going to bring about change. Everyone can do something because it’s the right thing to do, but I also look at what we do as the right thing for business.

In a little over three years, we have 80 alumni from our programs for writers, directors, and composers. Forty percent of those have secured production credits with about half of them within NBC Universal. I feel so proud of that. It’s a huge driving force for us in what we do.

EK: NBC Universal has been such a valuable partner of the Institute. Can you share some examples of the ways we’ve worked together?

JJC: The partnership with the Institute has really been invaluable. I met Geena and Madeline Di Nonno my first year at Universal when they came to speak at DreamWorks Animation. That was where I got my first taste of the amazing tool the Institute created with the University of Southern California, Spellcheck for Bias.

Geena has been so generous with her time, coming in to speak with the creatives throughout NBC Universal. As the relationship developed, I was looking for the right way to partner.

There is a need in terms of representation and portrayals of the Latinx community. And since the Institute was already developing this phenomenal tool, we decided to partner to fund and develop a piece of Spellcheck for Bias that was specific to the Latinx community.

My hope is that it will evolve to target other areas – like people with disabilities or whatever it might be. I’m really hoping this is the start of a long-term resource we can help fund that will be an asset for creatives and storytellers throughout the industry.

EK: How will NBC Universal Corporate, Programming and Employees be honoring June’s LGBTQ Pride Month amidst COVID-19?

JJC: NBC Universal is very committed in this space. We have NBC Out which is the LGBTQ section of NBC news. They launched 2020 Pride Honorees recognizing 12 LGBTQ individuals who are helping in the fight against Covid-19. Fandango has curated a list of the best LGBTQ films of all time and Rotten Tomatoes has published a viewing guide. USA and SYFY are partnering with the leading non-profit LGBTQ advocacy organization, GLAAD, for a multiplatform campaign spotlighting positive representation all month long.

EK: What is your “If She Can See It, She Can Be It” moment?

JJC: It’s hard one for me to think of just one moment. The narrative that shapes me is about being inspired by strong female characters who aren’t in these ancillary roles of just the wife or girlfriend. They are driving the story. From Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich to Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada. I like how she runs a business. Don’t tell my team that!

And more recently I look at Cynthia Erivo, who did Harriet for us. I loved seeing a flip on that narrative and on the woman she truly was and how she defied what males thought she should do. That’s the stuff that excites me and really inspires me.

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IF SHE CAN SEE IT, SHE CAN BE IT